Last week my wife was looking after our grandson for the afternoon. He is 18 months old and as you would expect will grab anything he can get his hands on. He loves to play with iPads and iPhones and he already knows how to get Siri to talk to him!
This particular day he discovered my wife’s iPad, which was off and had the security lock set. She was surprised to see that he knew the slide gesture to unlock, entertained when he started poking his fingers at the pin pad but astounded when he reached over, grabbed her index finger and pulled it down to the screen.
He didn’t know the pin, but he knew what needed to happen next. He doesn’t talk yet, but he got his message across.
We should never be surprised by the skills and different thought processes of each new generation. The challenge is to find the appropriate way to engage with them, and especially to find the best method to teach and coach them. The title of this post is derived from one of my favourite Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young) songs – Teach Your Children.
In 2001 Marc Prensky published a paper entitled “Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants”, that raised concerns about out-dated educational processes. He used the analogy of Immigrants who spoke with an ‘accent’, those who have to print a document to edit it have an accent, those who print their email to read it have a heavy accent – those who get their assistant to print the email are straight off the boat and really struggle to be understood!
Prensky’s work was very influential, and stimulated much debate and critique. In particular by linking digital competence to age. But it does raise important questions about how we educate and coach each new generation of professionals.
This is a question about the methods and tools of teaching and coaching, not just about Technology. It goes to the methods we use to train risk and BC practitioners. I remember ‘death by OHP foils’ and carousels full of 35mm presentation slides, at least those things cost money for each slide which limited the numbers (and unfortunately the ability to customise to the audience). With PowerPoint we can generate limitless numbers of bullet point slides with ease, and at minimal cost to us. The cost is often borne by the audience and lack of engagement with the message.
This is the educational equivalent of paving the cow paths.
Recently another group of researchers have recast Prensky’s work in terms of “Visitors and Residents”. Rather than rely on age and background, this model looks at the motivation to use certain tools and the context in which they use them.
Visitors, it is suggested, see technology (especially the web) as similar to an untidy garden shed, where they go and just select a tool to complete a job. The tool may not be the perfect choice, but they are happy as they just want to get a job done and return the tool to the shed. They are simply users and have no sense of belonging. Residents on the other hand see these technologies as an extension of their persona – these are the people who “live” online.
Do we want our colleagues to view our plans and response arrangements as that untidy garden shed, something they simple consume but do not engage with – or do we want them to ‘live’ continuity? I think the real notion of resilience needs people to ‘live’ there.
As new generations enter the workplace, and enter our discipline, are we updating our educational techniques? Are we teaching and coaching our practitioners to operate effectively in a modern corporation?
It would be especially interesting to hear how others may be using social media tools and new collaboration platforms as part of their risk/BC practice. I am not talking about the (often hopeful) ideas for use of social media in a crisis – but the everyday use of these tools and technology to build and maintain capability.
Please feel free to comment or contact me offline.